Monday, November 4, 2013

From a Distance...

          The pictures at the beginning of the worship slides today were of Walnut, some were from high up, some from ground level and some in between. Isn't it interesting how our perspectives change, depending on where we’re at?
          From a distance we may not clearly understand what we see but up close we can see details more clearly. If we really want to see more detail we dig out the magnifying glass or maybe our microscope.
          Thinking about distance, let’s give some thought on how we communicate, with each other...and with God, and how we receive answers from folks we send messages to.
          It’s not unusual today to see people sitting at tables with their eyes looking down at their laps. No, they’re not praying. One could only hope.
          No, most of the time they’re texting, who really knows who and what or even why. Maybe they’re asking questions or maybe they’re the ones with the answers and they’re sharing their wisdom with someone on the other end, maybe even someone just across the table from them. Either that or they’re on Facebook seeing who posted some picture or quote or joke or some bit of news or messaged them.
          So, I mentioned praying, in passing. What about our communications, our prayers, with the Holy? How’s that going for you? Is God speaking to you…or are you still waiting for an answer?
          How do we communicate with God…and how does God communicate with us? Habakkuk had been communicating with God through his prayers and laments. He continued to pray…and wait…and pray some more…and wait some more. When we listen to God’s word from Habakkuk it sounds as if the writer is a little worried that God isn’t listening to his prayers. It sounds as if the writer thinks that God isn’t paying any attention to what’s going on.
          Habakkuk doesn’t give up. At first he’s complaining that God isn’t paying attention or listening to his prayers; then in the next part he changes his tactics and begins to compliment God on his positive attributes, not that he doesn’t also question “why” sometimes. And then he says, “I will stand watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.” He wanted to get higher up. Maybe he thought he’d get better reception there.
          And then…God answers. We may be amazed that God answered but Habakkuk wasn’t, or at least I don’t think he was.
          We read…then the Lord replied, “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.” God said, “Write it down…on tablets so a herald may run with it.” Write it down.
          Consider this. What if at morning prayers you are always complaining to God about the things going on in your home, or injustices in your community, or your state, or your country, or someplace specific in the world; what if this was your practice to pray for this every day? And then you decided to move your place of prayer to a higher place, to gain a better perspective, get better reception, and you waited for God to answer…as you continued to pray.
          And then…the Lord spoke, “Write it down on your tablets.” Would you get out your smart phone and begin composing the Message to send to all your Facebook and Twitter friends?
          God’s Message that Habakkuk was to give to the heralds was a warning. There was going to be an end to what was going on and if things didn’t change there was going to be an accounting and it wasn’t going to be pretty. Those who were taking advantage of their neighbors, abusing them, stealing from them, killing them, these things eventually were going to overwhelm them. All these things that they created with their own hands and worshipped weren’t going to be able to help them. The Lord was in his holy temple and he expected all the earth to be silent before him.
          We don’t know for sure if Habakkuk did what the Lord asked him to do but we do know he heard the Message and he answered God with a prayer.
          The Message he received was frightening. God was going to destroy the invaders and it wasn’t going to be fun to be around when that happened.
          Habakkuk knew how powerful the Lord was because he knew, he believed the Lord had created the world and everything in it. Apparently he believed in the Lord’s anger over the injustices taking place in his country. Even though the Lord might send famine and hunger to the nations, Habakkuk was going to continue to rejoice in the Lord and be joyful in God his savior.
          How many of us could say we’d do the same thing? It’s hard to be hopeful, trusting in God, when all around us the world is falling apart.
          And therein may be the answer. Habakkuk still believed. He had faith that the Lord God would make everything right again.
          There are people today who, since they haven’t heard God speak or seen any evidence of things getting better, don’t believe that God is.  And so they, like the people in Habakkuk’s day, rely on their own strength, creating for themselves idols out of steel and wood and megabytes to worship and do their bidding. God has answered so they are going to do it themselves. They just can’t wait any longer.
          Friends, look back in the Old Testament and read the stories of Moses, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These men, these patriarchs of our faith, waited a lifetime for God to answer.  And we expect God to be different today? Why?
          Friends, I believe God wants us to be like Habakkuk, to be tenacious in our faith; continuing to pray, maybe even changing when and where we pray and wait to see if God might not hear us better. Never doubting that God will eventually speak his word to us, maybe even asking us to “write it down on tablets” so it can be communicated succinctly and easily to all in our communities.
          So, good friends, leave here and go to the high places, the ramparts, and wait for the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God for his grace. Amen.

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